Dog sex case: Nicholas Saunders found guilty
3:15pm Thursday 28th June 2012 in News
FATHER-OF-THREE Nicholas Saunders was convicted today of having sex with his ex-wife's giant bull mastiff dog.
Fencing contractor Saunders, 46, showed no emotion other than to shake his head slightly as the jury unanimously found him guilty after a three day trial at Gloucester Crown Court.
Saunders, of Manor Avenue, Lechlade, had denied ex wife Kelly Thacker's allegation that she saw him having intercourse with four year old Sasha the bull mastiff on her bed.
Ms Thacker told how Saunders had propositioned her for sex first but when she turned him down he whistled for the dog and had intercourse with Sasha instead.
But Saunders claimed the allegation was a 'total lie' made up by Ms Thacker because he had refused to have sex with her.
Crucial evidence in the case came from a forensic scientist who found dog DNA on a swab taken from inside Saunders' penis.
When the jury of five men and seven women returned their guilty verdict today the judge, Recorder Stewart Patterson, bailed Saunders for a pre-sentence report to be prepared.
He told Saunders he will be sentenced on July 27.
"It is an unusual offence and unusual behaviour and I want to know more about it and about you before I pass sentence," he said.
"I am adjourning so that the probation service can enquire into it."
He said Saunders could have bail on condition he does not contact his ex wife and family and he warned him that all sentencing options are open.
He also ordered Saunders to sign the sex offenders register at a police station within three days, Sarah Jenkins, defending, had asked the Recorder to pass sentence immediately, suggesting that a community order would be sufficient punishment.
Saunders was a man of good character apart from a conviction for assault more than 20 years ago, she said.
But the Recorder told her "It is an unusual offence and I would like to get to the bottom of it and find out why and whether your client needs some help."
Prosecutor Frank Abbott told the Recorder that the case had caused 'considerable distress' to Saunders' ex wife and the couple's sixteen-year-old-twin daughters.
"There has been some dispute within the families and the local community, who have taken sides in this matter," he said.
"It has been something of an ordeal for the family."
At the start of the trial the jury heard that Saunders and Ms Thacker were married in 1999 and have twin daughters, now aged 16.
They separated in 2002 and after a while got back on friendly terms together.
On Jan 15th last year Mr Saunders turned up at her home in Fairford, Glos, after calling to say his girlfriend Sue Jones had thrown him out and he had nowhere to stay.
Ms Thacker agreed to let him stay the night and they went to her bedroom to watch TV because the downstairs television was broken.
The jury heard that Ms Thacker later went downstairs leaving Mr Saunders to sleep in her bed.
She alleged that while in the bedroom Saunders had made it clear he wanted sex with her. She said that when Sasha jumped on the bed he commented that the dog had 'ruined my chances' with Ms Thacker.
She said that shortly after going downstairs she heard bumping upstairs and then heard Saunders whistling for the dog.
She claimed she went upstairs to see what was happening and saw Saunders in the act of having sex with Sasha on the bed.
"Half way up I peered through the top bannister to see what he was doing. Sasha was laid on her side on the bed and he was trying to guide his penis into her," she alleged.
"I don't know if he still had his boxers on but I could see his penis – it wasn't in the dog's vagina but he appeared to be guiding it in. He had an erection.
"Sasha has a big vagina and I could see it clearly.
"I think I must have hit some sort of shock. I hid back a little bit because he started moving and I didn't want him to see me.
"After a minute I looked around again. He must have turned the dog onto her back and he was in the middle of the bed on all fours holding onto her thighs. He was having intercourse with her. I could see his penis going and in and out of the dog's vagina.
"She was being passive. She wasn't even moving.
"I plucked up the courage to go up the rest of the stairs and went to the bedroom doorway and said to him 'get the f**k out of my house.'
"He quickly jumped off the dog and lay face down. He said 'I'm tired.'"
She said she went back downstairs in disgust and disbelief. She could hear him getting his clothes on and he then left the house.
She said she reported him to the police the next morning after discussing it with her daughters.
Saunders, who pleaded not guilty to 'intentionally performing an act of penetration of the vagina of a living animal, namely a bull mastiff, with his penis on Jan 15th last year, told the jury his ex-wife's allegations were lies.
He said that when police arrested him he said 'You must be joking' and insisted that the allegation was 'bulls**t.'
He was shocked, he said, when dog DNA was found on the swab taken from his penis.
"When they told me they had found dog DNA I said nothing more to the police because I was in total shock. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't work it out, I couldn't understand it."
He told the jury that he and Ms Thacker watched TV for 10-15 minutes in her bedroom and she then left to go downstairs.
He stripped down to his boxer shorts and popped into his twin daughters' bedroom to say goodnight to them, he said.
Then he stripped completely naked and settled down to sleep.
"I think I was asleep for nearly two hours. I was woken by Sasha licking my face. I pushed her away because I don't particularly like that," he said.
"I got up to use the toilet and as I got up Kelly came into the room. She was just having a go at me. She was a bit of a nutcase to be honest with you.
"Her specific words were "I suppose you would rather s**g the dog than s**g me.'
"I thought she was an absolute nutcase and that's what I said to her. I got changed and left the house. There wasn't really any further conversation between us."
He said he spent the rest of the night sleeping in his van parked up the road near her home.
Two forensic scientists - one instructed by the prosecution and one by the defence - both said that canine DNA could have got into Mr Saunders 'penis simply from him touching himself after touching the dog.
The DNA in his penis could have come from a dog's saliva, blood or hair as well as from the vagina, said defence expert Claire Stangoe. And it could have come from any dog, not just Sasha.
"It could come from direct transfer between the dog and the penis, from secondary transfer - for example a hand touching the dog and then touching the penis - or even from tertiary transfer," she said.
"Tertiary transfer would be DNA transferring to one item and then to another item and then to the penis. For example if the dog grooms itself, transferring saliva to its fur, and then you pat the dog and then touch your penis."
It would be perfectly possible, she said, for Saunders to have come into contact with the dog's DNA from the bedcover when he was naked.
Saunders himself suggested that the dog DNA got on his hands when he pushed Sasha off him in bed and that he then transferred it to his penis when he pulled back his foreskin to go to the toilet.
The jury returned its unanimous guilty verdict after a retirement of just over 3 hours.